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Showing posts from 2016

Is Johnson & Johnson's baby powder safe to use?

The likely reason you are reading this post is because you have come across the news about courts in the United States (US) ordering multinational company Johnson & Johnson (J&J) to payout millions to litigants over the past few months. So far, there are three separate verdicts in US based courts that have associated J&J's baby powder with ovarian cancer. While official statements from the company have said that these verdicts will be challenged in the higher court, there are over 1000 such lawsuits that are pending in the courts and litigants and their legal counselors are waiting to get similar verdicts in the future. The gist of all three verdicts is that the all complainants or litigants were users of J &J's talcum powder for two to three decades to keep their genital region dry and odorless and developed ovarian cancer. The complaint also said that the company was well aware of the risks that the talcum powder carried and the company failed to notify the u…

Life without Air conditioners - even in summers! [Coffee-byte]

While a good part of the Western hemisphere spends tons of gas in heating their homes, the Eastern hemisphere is quickly becoming a major consumer of electricity for purposes of cooling their homes and offices. As temperatures soared over the last summer often crossing the 40oC mark in India, millions of Indians turned to their air conditioners remotes to cool themselves and their surroundings. But can developing economies with polluted atmospheres continue to burn coal and other fossil fuels to keep themselves cool? The natural alternate would be use solar or tidal sources of energies or simply rethink our designs and try to cool the individual rather than his surrounding. This is the line of thinking that the Department of Material Sciences and Engineering followed at the University of Stanford under the aegis of Prof. Yi Cui. 
Perspiration is our body's natural mechanism to cool itself. When temperatures soar, the body starts perspiring to maintain its temperature around the nor…

Artificial Light - A pollutant or step towards something new?

I remember watching a documentary once about sea turtles and how they make their way every year to the same beach to lay eggs. The young ones hatch and are naturally supposed to move to the sea, but instead get dazzled by our bewitching shorelines. Lined with shops, eateries, restaurants and bright lights which is good for local businesses but it does not really pan out well for the little turtles. These young guys are intrinsically drawn to bright lights and get disoriented and start moving inland, instead of going the other direction. 
If you look it up, this is one of the many things that come listed under 'light pollution'. Now that sounds absurd, light - and a pollutant, (that simply preposterous I say !!) but it is not something new scientists are pointing out to. The term is very broad but can be applied to light that is unpleasant and disruptive. Apart from the obvious side effects, i.e. heat and carbon dioxide, too much artificial light has lingering side effects on ou…

Would you donate your poop for a loved one?

The internet is ripe with bizarre stories of how a brother/ sister/ friend/ lover  (even estranged husband’s lover) donated an organ to save the life of a patient in a precarious condition. Call it love or just humanity, we tend to delve in such selfless behaviours from time to time be it for our loved ones or even complete strangers. 



The very fact that blood donation camps have been held regularly around the world and continue to attract donors every time is testament to human good will. Many donate their organs while living or after their death and that is a noble cause. Sperm donation is also quite common, but does not come with the nobility of organ donation. But what about poop? Would you consider it a noble cause to donate poop? Should the need arise, would you rise to the occasion and make a deposit?
If you look at it for what it is, your poop is of no use to you whatsoever. Everybody just dumps their collection sooner or later. So, there is no reason for not doing so. We should…

Six extinctions in Six Minutes

The word 'extinction' is quite synonymous with dinosaurs, woolly mammoths, sabretooth (pretty much everything Ice Age has taught us so far). But, paleontologists believe that 99.99% of species that have dwelled on the planet Earth have faced extinction. Its not that humans are that rare 0.01% that have survived, it's probably just a matter of time, before we, too, become part of someone else's history books.

But before we head there, here is an episode of Shelf Life, a web series from American Museum of Natural History,  titled Six Extinctions in Six Minutes, where you get to see the what has gone extinct from the planet and what has managed to resurrect itself. Don't worry, it's n
ot something we should be afraid of but there is also something thought provoking.

Do let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.



5 things driverless cars will do to change our future?

The race for building the world’s first commercially available driverless car is on. Google seems to be leading the pack and in its own charismatic style has been very open about it. Elon Musk’s Tesla is considered the second best with their cars having almost automated the driving process. Tech favourites, Apple also seem to be in the race but everything is under wraps, as of now, and there is not even a hint of what Apple is planning to make, the car, the software or simply make the car accessible with your Apple ID.
Once part of science fiction, driverless cars will soon be a part of our lives and with major automobile manufacturers such as General Motors, Toyota, Ford investing in the technology, prototypes of driverless cars will soon be seen on the roads. Before we get there, a quick review.
The Driverless car
The concept of automated driving has been around for close to a century but progress was slow due to unavailability of technology. For a car to be autonomous, it needs to kno…

Solar cells that work in rain

In case you have read my last month’s guest post about harvesting solar energy in rust, you would be delighted to know that there has been yet another breakthrough in our attempt to harness solar energy.  For many years, solar energy has been targeted for being unavailable at night and during rains. The problem of utilizing solar energy at night can be resolved with the help of metal oxide cells as elaborated in my above post (do read it, if you have not done so already). And now researchers at the Ocean University in China have addressed the second problem and developed solar cells that can actually use rain drops to generate electricity.
Published in the German journal Angewandte Chemie, the paper titled, A Solar Cell Triggered by Sun and Rain, opens a new realm of possibilities when harnessing solar energy. Coating the solar cell with a thin film of graphene allows the cell to function even when it is raining. Graphene is nothing but reduced form of graphite that consists of a hone…